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Naftali Bennett: ‘Health Ministry leadership destroyed Israel’s economy’

Yamina party chairman and former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett excoriated two former senior Health Ministry officials, accusing them of mishandling Israel’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and causing massive damage to the Israeli economy.

In his upcoming book How to Beat an Epidemic, Bennett takes aim at former Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov and former public health chief Siegal Sadetzki, according to a report Friday by Yediot Aharonoth.

Bennett accused the two former health officials of ruling out all other options besides of a nationwide lockdown.

“The absurdity which characterized the first wave of the coronavirus was the fact that common sense never managed to penetrate the conceptual barrier erected by the top health officials of that period,” wrote Bennett.

“From day one, they settled on a lockdown. Bar Siman Tov and Sadetzki weren’t willing to listen to any alternatives. From the beginning, they refused to believe in tests and how important they are. Night after night, they pushed this line in the news: ‘Testing isn’t a solution. There is no need to expand the number of tests.’”

“They blocked various proposals to increase the testing capacity,” added Bennett.

“When Professor Gabi Barbash advanced a plan with the Weizmann Institute to carry out mass testing at fast food restaurants, which get thousands of customers each day, senior Health Ministry officials shot down the idea. When Prof. Zev Rothstein carried out tests of hospital employees – where the threat is the highest – senior Health Minsitry officials announced that they were halting the supply of swabs.”

Bennett went on to blame Bar Siman Tov and Sadetzki for the massive damage caused to the Israeli economy during the first wave of the coronavirus.

“Bar Siman Tov and Sadetzki aren’t bad people. Quite the opposite. They are top flight public servants. But they were motivated by the doctrine of zero risk. The Health Ministry is by its nature is conservative and slow to change. That’s not the way to win a war. Their approach trashed the economy and led to the second wave of outbreaks which was far worse than the first.”

Bar Siman Tov pushed back on Bennett’s criticisms, saying: “His claims are filled with falsehoods, lies, and inaccuracies.”

“During my time as Director-General and Litzman’s term as Health Ministry, the Health Ministry worked with the Prime Minister with determination and success in curbing the coronavirus pandemic in Israel, with a number of methods including massively increasing the testing system and implementing a program of social distancing, steps which were taken by all other countries which successfully confronted the coronavirus, and Israel was a pioneer in these steps.”

Sadetzki also rejected Bennett’s claims, saying in response to the quotes from his book: “When my recommendations were accepted, Israel was the world leader in dealing with the pandemic.”

Original: Arutz Sheva